Greek National Opera puts on an electric ‘Otello’

Acclaimed French director Yannis Kokkos leads the Greek National Opera in a psychological, avant-garde production of Giuseppe Verdi’s “Otello,” in which he strips the opera down to its basics, poignantly drawing out the Moor’s complexities, his envy and need for certainty, in what is a memorable performance. Iago and Desdemona are drawn in equally powerful lines, complementing the direction of maestro Myron Michalidis, who, in his own right, evokes the beauty of the 19th century score.

The atmosphere at the Roman-era Herod Atticus Theater in central Athens on Tuesday night was electrified – and that was before the performance even began. Spectators young and old were transfixed by the grandeur of the theater itself, indifferent, even dismissive of one another and their friends who accompanied them.

The audience swiftly found their seats long before the show had commenced and continued to admire their surroundings, taking a keen interest in the orchestra as its tuned its instruments.

But once the performance got under way, we were plunged into Venice of 1571, into behind-the-scenes Machiavellian machinations and intrigue. The audience was in the cast’s thrall, breaking its concentrated silence only to express its enthusiasm for an exceptionally well-hit note with applause and cries of “bravo.”

The final performance of “Otello,” which is part of the Greek festival, will take place on Thursday and should not be missed.

Tickets are available at the Olympia Theater Box Office (59-61 Academias, tel 210.366.2100) the Greek Festival Box Office (39 Panepistimiou, inside the Pesmazoglou Arcade, tel 210.327.2000), at the door and online at,

The entrance of Herod Atticus Theater is located on the Dionysiou Areopagitou pedestrian promenade, below the Acropolis. The nearest metro station is Acropolis.

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